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A proud village of the Mtein

    If you've ever wondered how a Lebanese village might have looked two or three hundred years ago, try a visit to Mtein where many old palaces and buildings survive.
    Mtein's modern history dates back to the 15th century when people moved here from North Lebanon and the Houran. At the start of the 16th century, the Al-Lamaayeen Emirs took up residence in Mtein and built the palaces we see today. During Ottoman times the village played an influential role, especially under the Ottoman governors in the 19th century.
    This village of about 6,000 people is proud of its grand architecture and historic past. In the old days, it had several silk factories where residents of Mtein and nearby villages worked. Today, however, thanks to the wealth of its vineyards, Mtein is a producer of arak.
    The residents of the village are working to protect and restore the palaces and other old buildings around their main square, and many of the elegantly decorated doorways have already been restored. Notice the  old enclosed window balcony on the west palace. Although this is the only one remaining here, enclosed balconies can be seen in Beiteddine and a few other mountain towns.
    The long east palace also once had an enclosed balcony and if you look carefully you can still see parts of the wooden structure and the stone supports. The central roof of this palace was hit by a shell during Lebanon's war, but it is now being repaired. In fact, the palace has a story of bad luck: it caught fire on three occasions between 1840-1860 and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Despite the present damage, you can still admire the building's two ornate doorways made of yellow and white stone.
    Behind the south palace and down the hill, you'll find a square stone qubba, with a domed roof. A look through the window will reveal a typical Druze tomb with head and foot stones.
    The importance of Mtein's heritage has been recognized by the Lebanese government, who in 1957 issued a decree placing the historic sites here under its protection

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